Always adventurous and outgoing, he enjoyed outdoor country sports and challenges on the sports field even as a very young boy. Educated at Loughborough Grammar School, he went on to Nottingham University where he qualified as a Civil Engineer.
Passionate about flying he determined to join the R.A.F, but was at first rejected on medical grounds due to an injury he had sustained to his collar bone on one of his regular ventures on the rugby field. Leaving no stone unturned, he volunteered for the R.A.F Volunteer Reserve, only to be told that they didn't have space for him.
Undaunted by this rejection, he joined the Leicestershire Yeomanry on a part time basis but never lost his enthusiasm for flying, so much so, that on leave he would (at his own expense) have flying lessons.
The need for pilots at the outbreak of war with Germany in September 1939 changed everything; the rest they say is history.
Although he was accepted into the R.A.F; the rigorous training brought with it the return of medical problems resurfacing from his old injury.
A determined character he packed the injury with wool held in place with adhesive tape and tightened the straps which helped to reduce vibration when flying.
On 11th Sept 1940 he flew with a raid patrol in Spitfire X4330 qualifying as a "Battle of Britain" pilot, during the same month he met the renowned Douglas Bader and was duly impressed by Bader 's unruffled leadership qualities. Sadly his old injury was now proving a real obstacle and much to his chagrin he was admitted to hospital for a much needed remedial operation.
He was declared fit for flying in December 1940 and joined 616 Squadron in January 1941 flying alongside Wing Commander Douglas Bader. During the rest of the war, Johnnie Johnson literally became a legend in his own lifetime and was decorated numerous times.
As the top scoring R.A.F fighter pilot (at least 38 downed enemy 'planes and many more probably never tallied) he was ever mindful of his debt to his devoted and dedicated ground crew. He achieved the rank of Group Captain and given command of No 125 Wing.
During the war he married Pauline Ingate and they had two sons. After the Second World War, he served in Korea and commanded R.A.F Wildenrath in Germany until 1954. His final command as Air Vice Marshall was to Middle East Air Forces in Aden.
Extremely active in retirement he sat on many company boards yet still found time to write highly readable and well received books, including Wing Leader (1956), full Circle (1964), Courage in the Skies (1992) and Winged Victory (1995). There is a lasting legacy to his memory, in the form of the Johnnie Johnson fund, at Loughborough Grammar School. The fund awards grants to boys who undertake an educational challenge during the summer holidays.